July 19, 2009

Laura Slocum and a Global Embrace

laura slocum etsy project embrace

This past January, I opened my pottery shop on Etsy.com. Although I had been an artist and writer among other things, I had never been a merchant per se and I must admit to having had deer-in-the-headlamps syndrome at the beginning. Navigating my way around Etsy without a map or guidance wasn’t impossible, but until I understood what marketing really meant, it was slow going.

Then I discovered the joy of treasuries – both weaving them and appearing in them. Beyond their sheer marketing value, they allow sellers to connect with each other and they create a venue for an artistic and supportive community of sorts. It was in the treasury comments that I discovered Laura. She stood out like a hammered and throbbing Fred Flintstone thumb because she was such a prolific social butterfly and her comments were so hilariously funny. I was smitten. We started a warm friendship and I quickly came to hold Laura in well deserved high regard.

Fast forward the clock a few months to the beginning of June. I was browsing through the treasuries and finding my favorites when I stumbled upon a few somewhat cryptic treasuries dedicated to Laura that were created by and included Etsy sellers with whom I knew Laura to be friendly. They were “sending Laura love” and she was “in [their] thoughts and prayers.” I spent some time fruitlessly trying to understand what was going on; I could only guess. Then I found her announcement in her Etsy shop—Laura had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Virtual friendship is an odd thing. Although we are removed from each other by everything except a computer screen, one can still develop a close connection and affection nevertheless. I was suddenly feeling a hole in my heart.

I assumed she must have been overwhelmed and had little time for emails, but I sent her my heartfelt thoughts and prayers anyway. Then with her reply came the next surprise – she was at peace with it all. She will (I hope) forgive me for printing part of our email conversation:

“…I have always lived my life in that I take the best care of myself that I can. I exercise, I eat right, try to get enough rest...and if I ever got sick, so be it. I never wanted to be 'kicking' myself that I did something wrong. So, I'm at peace with it and accept that this is the path I'm taking. God has a plan - so it's really not up to me.”

Like a trooper, Laura went in for multiple surgeries, started a chemo regimen and then…well, you should have just seen what exploded on Etsy! Kim of slinkymalinkicat and Amy of ThePeachTree spearheaded a tidal wave of support for Laura in what they titled “EtsyProjectEmbrace” where sellers could donate sale proceeds from designated items to the American Cancer Society in honor of Laura’s new fight. (Click here to view the current EtsyProjectEmbrace selections.) Then Lynn, from UnaOdd, set up the ACS EtsyProjectEmbrace team so making and tracking donations is easy.

Laura sure has one formidable cheering squad. If an outpouring of love and support could cure a disease, Laura could skip the chemo. EtsyProjectEmbrace proves it, the world can be a beautiful place.

Here are some links for more information:
Laura’s blog

The ACS EtsyProjectEmbrace page

lauraslocumpainted, creativelytangled, and CreativelyTangled2 Laura’s three Etsy shops

Some blog posts written by her friends:
kathiroussel
sigmosaics
happyment
unaodd
polarity</A